The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Vino's Out!

(That curse, BTW, is "damn" in Russian; Kazakh slang proved intractable).

My favorite, Alexandre Vinokourov, is unable to race the Tour not because he was implicated in the Puerto scandal, but because too many of his teammates were. Without at least 5 teammates, Astana-Wurth couldn't race. In a word, that sucks. Vino must have some bad karma, to go from having his own teammates work to bring him down to having his teammates' perfidity bring him down.

Anyway, where does that leave us? With 3 Americans, one Australian, and one Spaniard as favorites. I wrote about George, Levi, & Floyd yesterday. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), of Australia, was not on my radar screen, and I'm still not sure, based on prior performance, why he's being mentioned, but the OLN gang are united on it, so it must be so. Last is strong young Spaniard Alejandro Valverde(Caisse D'Espargne/Baleares), whom I did know about but neglected yesterday.

This morning's Prologue, a short, flat time trial that took only about 8 1/2 minutes to ride (an average recreational cyclist could probably do it in 13), was mostly dull: a fast time was posted by an early, unknown rider, and held up all day. Then, as the last few (and best) riders started (one at a time, 1 minute apart), intrigue arose. Floyd Landis was, incredibly, not at the starting gate on time, and went off maybe 8 seconds late. He finished 8 seconds off the winning time (set a few riders before by Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), a breakaway specialist). David Zabriskie, who won last year's opening time trial ahead of a Lance Armstrong in peak form, almost came through, but was a few seconds slow. Finally, big George Hincapie powered down the final straightaway, looking like he would take the day, and the first yellow jersey of the race. He crossed .72 seconds too slow. It's meaningless in terms of race position - Hushovd is no threat on the GC - but seeing George, Lance's most faithful lieutenant, in yellow tomorrow morning would have been psychologically powerful.



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